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HIST341: The Silk Road and Central Eurasia

Unit 7: The Silk Road in the Age of the Mongols   The Mongols—nomads of central Eurasia—dominated world history during the thirteenth century.  The Mongols invaded many postclassical empires and built an extensive cultural and commercial network.  Led by Chinggis Khan and his successors, the Mongols brought China, Persia, Tibet, Eurasia Minor, and southern Russia under their control.  The Mongol empire also opened trade routes—primarily along the Silk Road—as well as lines of communication between different regions in Eurasia.  

In this unit, we will see how the Mongols presented a formidable nomadic challenge to sedentary, civilized societies throughout Eurasia.  We will also study how they unified the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppe and brought about an era of political peace and stability that bolstered the Silk Road trade.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit will take you approximately 11 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 5 hours

 

☐    Sub-subunit 7.2.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Sub-subunit 7.2.2: 0.25 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 7.2.3: 0.25 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 7.2.4: 0.25 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 7.2.5: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 7.3: 3.5 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify major milestones in the life of Chinggis Khan and the rise of the Mongol Empire.
  • Describe some of the general features of Mongol rule and possible causes of their decline.
  • Describe some of the ways in which the Mongol Empire served to foster cultural and economic interaction between Asia and Europe.

7.1 The Empire of Genghis Khan   - Web Media: Harvard University: Professor Peter Bol’s “The World Empire of the Mongols” Link: Harvard University: Professor Peter Bol’s “The World Empire of the Mongols
 
Instructions:  Please scroll down to lecture 17, and select the hyperlink for the video appropriate for your Internet connection.  Please watch this lecture by Harvard professor Peter Bol on the life of Genghis Khan and the rise of the Mongol Empire in its entirety (about 48 minutes).  This site is maintained by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
 
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7.1.1 Making of a Great Warrior   Note: This topic is covered in the reading beneath subunit 7.1.

7.1.2 Political and Social Causes   Note: This topic is covered in the reading beneath subunit 7.1.

7.1.3 Building the Mongol War Machine   Note: This topic is covered in the reading beneath subunit 7.1.

7.1.4 Conquering China and the Islamic Empire   Note: This topic is covered in the reading beneath subunit 7.1.

7.1.5 Life in the Mongol Imperium   Note: This topic is covered in the reading beneath subunit 7.1.

7.1.6 Division of the Empire   Note: This topic is covered in the reading beneath subunit 7.1.

7.2 The Mongol Empire after Chinggis Khan   7.2.1 Invasion of Russia   - Reading: University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literature: Professor Donald Ostrowski’s “The Shifting Present and Written Images of the Mongols” Link: University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literature: Professor Donald Ostrowski’s “The Shifting Present and Written Images of the Mongols”  
 
Instructions: Please enter “Ostrowski” in the search box at the left of the screen and proceed to the pdf link for “The Shifting Present and Written Images of the Mongols.”  Please read all of this text (34 pages), which describes how succeeding generations of Russian historians have portrayed Mongol rule—its nature, long term effects, and the manner in which it was brought to an end.  The author attempts to divide these interpretations into various “paradigms” and indicates in his conclusion how each may reflect certain attitudes and conditions from the time period in which they were written.  This site is maintained by the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
 
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7.2.2 Eurasia Minor   - Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: Helen Chapin Metz’s (ed.) Turkey: A Country Study: “Turkish Origins” Link: Library of Congress Country Studies: Helen Chapin Metz’s (ed.) Turkey: A Country Study: “Turkish Origins” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read this text in its entirety.  Pay special attention to the sections: “Sultanate of Rum” and “The Crusades.”
  
Terms of Use: The material above is available for viewing in the public domain.

7.2.3 The Mongols in China   - Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: Robert L. Worden, Andrea Matles Savada, and Ronald E. Dolan’s (ed.) China: A Country Study: “Mongolian Interlude” Link: Library of Congress Country Studies: Robert L. Worden, Andrea Matles Savada, and Ronald E. Dolan’s (ed.) China: A Country Study: “Mongolian Interlude” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read this text in its entirety.  This reading analyzes the Mongols’ rule over China, and the major cultural achievements developed during this period.
 
Terms of Use: The material above is available for viewing in the public domain.

7.2.4 Global Connections   - Reading: Columbia University: Professor Morris Rossabi’s “Support for Foreign Contact and Exchange,” “Mongols Support Trade, Facilitating East-West Contacts,” “The Status of Merchants Improved Under Mongol Rule,” and “Merchants Associations Alleviate the Perils of Caravan Trade” Links: Columbia University: Professor Morris Rossabi’s “Support for Foreign Contact and Exchange,” “Mongols Support Trade, Facilitating East-West Contacts,” “The Status of Merchants Improved Under Mongol Rule,” and “Merchants Associations Alleviate the Perils of Caravan Trade
           
Note: All texts are in HTML format.
 
Instructions: Please read these texts in their entirety.  In these texts, Professor Rossabi analyzes the Mongols’ mark on global history.

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7.2.5 The Rise of Timur   - Reading: Encyclopaedia Britannica’s “Timur” Link: Encyclopaedia Britannica’s “Timur” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this text and all embedded links in their entirety.  This entry narrates the life of Turkic conqueror of Western, South, and Central Asia and founder of the Timurid Empire in Central Asia.  Remember that Timur was the great, great grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived until 1857 as the Mughal Empire in India.
 
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7.3 Impact of the Mongols on the Silk Road   - Reading: University of Washington: Professor Daniel C. Waugh’s “The Mongols and the Silk Road” Link: University of Washington: Professor Daniel C. Waugh’s “The Mongols and the Silk Road” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This reading covers subunits 7.3.1 and 7.3.2. Please read the text in its entirety.  Professor Waugh discusses the importance for competing states of controlling the Silk Route.
 
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7.3.1 Political Stability   Note: This topic is covered by the reading in subunit 7.3.

7.3.2 End of Islamic Trade Monopoly   Note: This topic is covered by the reading in subunit 7.3.

7.3.3 East-West Relations   - Reading: University of Washington: William Rubruck’s “Account of the Mongols” Link: University of Washington: William Rubruck’s “Account of the Mongols” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read this text and all embedded links in their entirety.  William Rubrick, a Flemish Fransciscan monk, undertook a mission to Eurasia in 1253 with the hope of converting the Mongols to Christianity.  Rubrick became the first European to visit the Mongol capital of Karakorum and see the Khan’s palace there.  In this account of his three-year journey, Rubrick details the diverse religions and ethnicities within the Mongol Empire as well as the nomadic culture of the Mongols.
 
The text was translated by W. W. Rockhill: The journey of William of Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253-55. tr. from the Latin and ed., with an introductory notice, by William Woodville Rockhill (London: Hakluyt Society, 1900).
 
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7.3.4 The Pax Mongolica: A Contested History?   - Reading: University of Washington: Professor Daniel C. Waugh’s “The Pax Mongolica” Link: University of Washington: Professor Daniel C. Waugh’s “The Pax Mongolica
 
Instructions:  Please read the article in its entirety.  Professor Waugh reflects in this piece on the manner in which the Mongol Empire has been portrayed in history.  He provides an interesting survey in the process of the dilemmas we face in attempting to assess the impact of Mongol rule on those parts of the world brought under their control, as well as the diverse factors that may influence the writing of history from one generation of scholars to the next.
 
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